Easy Pico de Gallo

I love Tex-Mex (and real Mexican food when I get my hands on it). Otherwise, I make what I can at home when I’m in the mood and the produce is at its best throughout the year. One of the easiest sides/toppers for any dish is a little mix called Pico de Gallo. I can’t get enough. *drooling*

Pico de Gallo:
4 large Field Tomatoes (or 6 Romas), 1/4″ dice
1 Red Onion, fine dice
1 bunch Cilantro, fine diced leaves
1/2 Garlic Clove, grated
1 Jalapeno, seeded/fine dice
Big pinch Salt

I find the longer this can sit in the fridge setting up, the better it tastes.

Pickled Red Onions

I have no idea where I got this recipe last year, but it’s a keeper. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it’s tasty. I use it a lot, and I recently started using it to make pickled jalapeno peppers. Life is less boring with brined vegetables. It just is. Trust me.

Pickled Red Onions:
1 C White Vinegar
3 Tbsp White Sugar
1 Tea Salt
5 Black Peppercorns (1/2 Tea black pepper works, too)
1-2 Bay Leaves
1-2 Garlic Cloves, crushed and undressed

Bring all items above to a boil in a small sauce pot. Remove from heat immediately. Let it come to almost room temp as you slice of your veg of choice. Stuff the veg into a large mason jar that can hold up to 1 C of whatever you’re about to pickle.

Pour the cooled brine over top using a small strainer, screw on a tight fitting lid, and chill it at least 4 hrs. A full day is better, but to be honest, you can let your onion slices rest in the brine ten minutes in the pot as it cools and that will work, too. But only do that if you’re in a hurry. Letting it rest in the brine so everything marries is the better way to go. You will thank me.

TIP: if you like a big garlic hit, drop the leftover garlic cloves into the pickle brine before chilling the onion slices.

Challah Bread Test

About a month ago, I saw this product come across me at work. Yesterday it happened again, but unlike a month ago, yesterday I remembered to hunt it down in the store to buy. This is a frozen product that gets rested on the countertop for 4-6 hour as it proofs. I whisked up a egg and brushed that on before topping the loaf with sesame seeds.

Thirty fast minutes later, this bread was done. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. It costs $3.49. I haven’t cracked into it yet, but I’m sure it will taste delicious. I’m thinking of cutting it up into thick slices to toast and top with loads of butter. *drooling*

House Reno

We’ve decided to bite the bullet and find a contractor to rip up our main floor in the hopes of taking down two small walls that form our current tiny kitchen, scrape our popcorn ceilings, lay down some new flooring, and give us a kitchen island and some companion cupboards, a new electrical panel and a level floor. Tall order, I know.

Still waiting on the second quote. Let’s hope it’s not as shocking as the first one. We live in a townhouse, a garden home. The quote was missing stuff and was for, after taxes, just over $100K.

LOL. Hahaha — no.

The second contractor asked me what finishes I was thinking about, and honestly I had no clear vision at that point, but that was a week ago. A lot of inspiration (and Pinspiration) has been happening since. The husband and I have different tastes in a lot of things, but I think I lucked out and found something even he likes enough to pay for.

*fingers crossed*

Tiramisu

Tiramisu Close Up

The hardest part of tiramisu for me is parting with so much money for the mascarpone. It’s costs a fortune! Years ago, I found a little hack by Gemma over @biggerbolderbaking that allows me to make a fake mascarpone that saves a LOT of money so here we go. Get your big girl panties on, ladies, and let’s get assembling!

The base is comprised of however many lady fingers you can manage to fit into each layer times two or three layers, breaking fingers in half if you have to. (Depending on the pan I use, I can make up to three layers using a bread loaf pan, or two layers using a 9″x9″ square pan.) It’s not an exact science, so if you run out of the coffee/liquor mix, just make a bit more until all of the fingers get a quick soak.

Tiramisu

20-30 lady fingers

1 C room temp coffee brew

1 tbsp Amaretto (optional – I sometimes sub it out for 2 tsp hot chocolate powder whisked in)

Note: The filling is a two step process that will get folding into each other to make the ‘fascarponey’.

STEP ONE:

1C 35% Cream

1/3 C Sugar (white or superfine icing)
1 tsp Vanilla (this is the time to bust open the expensive stuff)

Whisk this on medium speed for about 5-8 mins, until the cream starts to thicken up. Then bump it to full speed for another 2-3 mins to incorporate a lot of air allowing the cream to fluff up.

Scrape the whipped cream into another mixing bowl. Set aside while assembling the second cream mixture in the mixer.

STEP TWO:

6oz/168g Cream Cheese, room temp (cut it into small cubes to speed up the temp change)

2 Tbsp Sour Cream (if you’re not using full fat, why are you even making this dessert?!)

3 Tbsp 35% Cream

Using a paddle attachment, cream this mixture to a smooth consistency. Drop on heaping spoonful of this mixture into the whipped cream bowl, and fold it in so the whipped cream thins out a bit. Add the rest and mix to incorporate both only.

Start the layering assembly at this point.

Drop each lady finger into a shallow dish with the coffee mixture and quickly roll it over a full rotation. Immediately place each soaked finger into the loaf pan or the glass dish. When one layer of lady fingers is assembled, top it with either one half or a third of the fascarponey mixture. Smooth it out. Optional: dust the cream layer with coco powder or hot chocolate powder. I do this sometimes, but often I forget to do it. Oh, well.

Continue with more of the same two layers until you reach the top of the pan with fascarponey. Top that with either coco or hot chocolate powder. Cover and let the dish set itself up in the fridge.

To be honest, you only need ten mins for the lady finger to soften up from all of the moister you rolled them around in and even more moisture from the creams, but the longer it sits chilling, the better it ends up tasting if you ask me. So, yeah – quick dessert for sure when you need something nice at a moment’s notice. Even slapped together quickly can produce a lovely to eat tiramisu.

I’ve never tasted a shitty tiramisu using this recipe (or anywhere else if I’m being honest). This dish is fool proof. If you find a way to screw it up, I need to be the first person you tell. And I will need a full explanation of just how you did it. Deal?

Fall / Winter Drink Mixes

Summer gave way to Autumn last week, but this week I ran out of my expensive coffee that I only buy on sale, so for now I made a small batch of cappuccino “coffee” drink mix. It’s nothing more than a jar of dry ingredients that have been well whisked together for almost a full minute (for full incorporation and to break up all of the clumps).

Cappuccino Dry Mix:
1 cup Hot Chocolate powder
1 cup Non-Dairy Creamer powder (optional)
2/3 cup Instant Coffee powder
1/2 cup Sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

I find the cost of the non-dairy product too high to pay in these parts, so I leave it out. I do add milk at some point to cream it up, but in liquid form. I store this in a 500 mL mason jar with a tight fitting lid.

Formula: 3 Tablespoons of mix per mug + 1/4 cup (not a precise measure each time) + 1 cup boiling water.

Instructions: As the water is heating up to a boil, run the mug under hot tap water for a few mins. Turn the water off and let what’s in the mug sit until the boiling water is ready. When the water hits boil, empty the mug into the sink and dump in 3 tbsp of the mix. Add your milk at this point and stir to make a somewhat slurry that allows the powders to start to blend into the liquid. At this point, add about 1/4 cup of the boiling water to the mug and stir vigorously until all of the clumps melt into the hot liquid. Add the rest of the boiling water. Stir a bit more and taste. If you need more creaminess, add a bit more milk.

Bonus mix recipe!

The other mix I like in the colder months when I’m bored of coffee or all out is my Mocha Mix. It’s pretty much the same as the above cappuccino mix without the warm spices and the addition of vanilla. Oh, and it’s the only one I have so far converted to metric for kitchen scales. I know, I know. I’m slower than a dinosaur. 🙂

Mocha Dry Mix:
30g Instant Coffee
50g Cocoa Powder
100g Sugar (of choice)
110g Milk Powder (optional)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Again, like in the above mix recipe, the milk powder can be left out in favour of your fave liquid milk product. Same deal as above for whisking the mix together. I like to put mine in a 500 mL mason jar with a tight lid.

Formula: 2 Tablespoons of mix + 1/4 cup milk + 1 cup boiling water.

Instructions: Exactly as above for the cappuccino mix to set the drink up in a warmed up mug.

Japanese Sandwich Love

I’m about a year behind LA, and even further behind Japan, but I’m all over this. It’s not hard to make. It’s boiled eggs in a bit of baking soda (1/2 tea for 6-8 eggs). The first few eggs come out at the 6 min mark (aka jammy egg stage), iced bathed, and then peeled. The rest of the eggs continue to boil another 5 mins (aka hard boiled) before being iced bathed and peeled.

The jammy eggs get cut down the middle whereas the hard boiled eggs get sliced & diced and mixed with a classic deli pasta salad dressing. (I have a recipe for you all.) A bit of sauce (make it up as you go) drizzled over two big slices of thick cut bread that have been toasted on the outside only, and two halves of a jammy egg get laid down before big scoop of the egg salad is dropped and smeared out over top. Close and cut into thirds. Done!

Deli Style Salad Dressing:
1 C Mayo
1 1/2 tbsp White Sugar
1/8 C White Vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon
1-2 tea Salt
1/2 tea Black Pepper
1/6 tea Cayene
1/2 C Green Onions (white & green parts)
1 C Celery Dice
1/2 C Yellow Onion Small, Thin Chops

Typically this is enough for 4 C of cooked elbow macaroni to make pasta salad (adding in any dice peppers you want with some shredded carrot). Chill the dressing at least 2-3 hrs with cling wrap touching the surface so it doesn’t dry out before added pasta (or egg dice) with herbs. Toss together and serve cold.

Tilley Family Newfounland Buns

This recipe has been around longer than my late mother-in-law was alive, but her family loved making it. BTW, Newfie (what it’s called on the recipe card) Buns are what they call scones in Newfoundland.

Newfie Buns:
3 C AP Flour
3 tea Baking Powder
1/3 C Sugar
1/2 tea Salt
1/4 lbs Butter*, cold

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk the dry ingredients together before cutting the cold butter into it to form a coarse crumble.

1 Egg
6 oz Milk

Beat the egg in a small measuring cup. Fill with milk to the 8oz mark. Stir together. Add to the dry butter mix with a fork just to combine. Shape the dough into a ball and then flatten into a disk before cutting up in 6 or 8 scones. Bake 15 mins.

OPT: 1 C Raisins or Currants. (Add at the end along with the egg-milk mixture.)

  • The typed out recipe card states you can use butter or margarine, but I believe my mother-in-law used both off and on in the 1980s, but preferred using butter.

Beloved Tilley Family Butter Tarts

My husband’s mother died yesterday. She was 93. She would want me to share this recipe above all of the ones she left behind. Enjoy.

TILLEY BUTTER TARTS:

Pie Pastry:
5 C AP Flour
2 tea Salt
1 lbs Tenderflake Lard
1 tbsp Vinegar
1 Egg, slightly beaten

Combine flour + salt. Cut in lard to coarse meal crumbles.

Combine vinegar + beaten egg in a measuring cup. Add cold icy water to this mix. Stop added water when egg/vinegar/water measures out to 1 cup.

Gradually add this wet mix to the dry mix with a fork. Gather combined batch up a ball. Wrap with plastic film and chill or freeze until needed, or roll out immediately into circles to make pastry shells to be placed in muffin tins.

Yield: 3 double 9″ pie crusts or 12 tart shells

Filling:
1/3 C Butter
2 tbsp Whole Milk or Cream
1 C Br Sugar
1 Egg, LG, beaten
1 tea Vanilla

Cream butter well before adding the cream. Add sugar; mix well. Add egg and vanilla. Mix to combine only.

If using raisins, drop a few into bottom of each tart shell placed inside large muffin tin wells, with sides of tart walls crimped to flatten out before being filled.

Dump filling into each pastry shell to about 2/3 full mark. Bake at 425 oven for 8 mins, drop the heat to 350 and bake tarts another 12 mins.

Yield: 12 butter tarts